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Afghan election panel relaxed fraud rules to avoid runoff

• McClatchy News
After it determined that excluding questionable ballots in Afghanistan's August presidential election would force President Hamid Karzai into a runoff, the country's Independent Election Commission voted to allow to them be counted, commission and Western officials told McClatchy.

The vote last Monday, which was detailed in commission documents reviewed by McClatchy, abandoned the tough standards to detect fraud that the panel had approved unanimously only 10 days earlier. This allowed hundreds of thousands of questionable ballots to be included in the results, according to a commission official.

The day after the vote, the commission announced a new tally that boosted Karzai's count from about 47 percent to 54 percent of the vote — enough for him to avoid a runoff and claim a second five-year term if the margin receives a final certification.


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